Sunday, September 27, 2009

outdoor modeling shot

the past week or so of cooking has consisted of trying to use up ingredients in the pantry. our move is next weekend and i'd prefer not to drag along 6 half open bags of pasta products and a bomb shelters worth of canned goods.

we've made a point of only buying produce and other perishable goods to complement the selection in the pantry. it's been fun trying to think up ways to use the same ingredients in new ways. a few nights ago, husband and i dined on rice (leftovers from a very large batch in the rice cooker) mixed with salsa, black beans, fresh tomatoes, and cheese wrapped in lettuce leaf "tacos". one can down and a sizable dent in the rice bag.

i made up this pasta recipe after i enjoyed the recent penne with spinach, asparagus, and bacon. it's pretty healthy and i was able to use pantry staples like chicken broth, cannellini beans, and the leftover uncooked wheat penne.

you know it's good when it starts like this

pasta with mixed greens and cannellini
2 pieces bacon (i used nitrate free applewood smoked)
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 c colored peppers, diced (red, yellow, orange)
3-4 c mixed southern greens (my bag had collard, spinach, and mustard, i think)
3/4 - 1 c chicken broth
1 chopped tomato
1 can cannellini beans, drained
2 c penne pasta, cooked
salt and pepper

1. in a large pan, cook bacon until crispy, remove, cool and chop
2. add onions to bacon grease and cook to soften
3. add garlic and red pepper flakes and cook for 1 minute
4. add peppers and 1 c greens, season generously with salt and pepper, cook until softened
5. add 3/4 broth and 2 c greens, cover and allow to steam for 5 minutes or until greens have wilted
6. uncover and stir in 1/2-1 c greens, cannellini beans, tomato, pasta, and bacon, add 1/4 c broth if necessary
7. cook through, season with salt and pepper, and top with shredded parmesan

operation: reduce pantry

this was delicious! i'm really loving greens in pasta dishes because it not only tastes great, but it add so many nutrients. plus, any dish that starts out with a piece or two of bacon has got to taste good. this type of dinner is definitely going into a more regular rotation (possibly replacing my love affair with israeli couscous, tomato, and artichoke creation).

Sunday, September 20, 2009

basic is sometimes best

so i mentioned i'm moving and with child. easy enough to do on here, not quite so much in real life. i mean, announcing you are pregnant is fun and people are generally happy about that. but telling your coworkers you are leaving in less than a month right after you deliver the fun baby news isn't quite as fantastic. i figured i needed some sort of treat to sweeten to news.

i knew i was telling work after husband and i saw the ultrasound, so i had to make the treats the night before. i haven't been cooking, though, at any point of the week, due to morning/afternoon/night sickness, so it was a bit of a challenge to get myself into the kitchen. i figured easy was best and since i started these at 10:30 pm (what is it with me and work treats and late nights??). i quickly decided upon another martha stewart recipe. her one bowl chocolate cake has never steered me wrong, but i think i was missing an ingredient or two. so i found this substitution.

chocolate cupcakes (adapted slightly from martha stewart)
3/4 c unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 c all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 c (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 c sugar
3 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 c sour cream
1/4 c yogurt (plain or vanilla)

1. in a medium bowl, sift together cocoa, flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside
2. in a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy
3. add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each, then beat in vanilla
4. on low speed, add flour mixture in two batches, alternating with sour cream/yogurt, beginning and ending with flour

5. pour batter into cups, filling each 3/4 full
6. bake at 350F until a toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes
7. c
ool in pan 5 minutes; transfer to a wire rack to cool completely

easy white icing (martha stewart)
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 lb (3 2/3 c) powdered sugar
1 to 2 tbsp milk

1. cream butter until smooth.
2. gradually add powdered sugar; beat until smooth
3. if too thick to spread, beat in 1 to 2 tablespoons milk
4. spread or pipe onto cooled cupcakes

i used a star tip to pipe a bit of icing (i call this buttercream, but i'll let martha have her way this time) on each cupcake, then topped with chocolate crunch bits. the recipe says it makes 12 regular sized cupcakes, but i had a bit extra and made 4-5 mini cupcakes in addition to the 12. some for husband!

you can't resist

so husband and i saw the baby and it was time to deliver the news to my office. cupcakes in hand, i showed ultrasound pictures and got them all excited before telling them i was off to chicago. i think the cupcakes were necessary. while i'm excited ot move and start something new, i really love my coworkers (i call them friends) and it's very bittersweet.

these cupcakes, on the other hand, were not. super sweet and the cake was so good. this recipe might replace the one bowl version. i loved the dense but moist crumb. and honestly, with all the things you can do to cupcakes, sometimes a basic, simple white frosting on chocolate cake is all you need.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

i've been busy

it's true. i've been busy making a tiny human. i haven't been blogging about food and crafts much because 1) looking at food either makes me starving or sick and 2) i sleep instead of doing anything else.

but indeed, i am pregnant. 12 weeks and loving it. this will not turn into a baby blog. i might post a picture or thought or craving, but it will remain the same as it was. hopefully, the same as it was before i stopped blogging frequently...

however, i'll need a few weeks yet, as husband and i are making a big move to chicago. he has just taken a job and everything is happening very quickly. when we're settled in, i have already made a mental commitment to get back to blogging on a more regular basis. i have goals of making homemade bread weekly and testing exciting treats on husband's new coworkers, as i will no longer have any of my own to share goodies with.

please stick around during this transition. good things are on their way :)

12 weeks with the ultrasound pics

Sunday, September 6, 2009

fresh cherry ice cream with chocolate chunks

on the day i bought my quilt fabric from joann's, i walked by a shelf of $5 cookbooks. there were tons of them and all featured great pictures and basic recipes. i have to hold back on things like this, because for $5 i could have put them all in my cart. i decided to practice restraint and just pick one. i came across delicious ice cream and looked no further. paging through had my mouth watering and i moved toward the quilting supplies satisfied with my choice.

i can't find the book anywhere online but at qvc, so if you're interested and it's not still available at joann's, here's a link. (boo, it's not $5!)

it was hard to choose which recipe to make first, but i had a bbq to attend and a bag of cherries in my fridge...not much decision had to be made.

crushed cherry-chocolate ice cream (adapted from delicious ice cream)
1/2 c sugar
2/3 c water
1 1/4 c fresh cherries, pitted
2 tbsp orange juice
1 1/4 c heavy cream
2/3 c light cream
1/4 c chopped dark chocolate

1. over medium heat, combine sugar and water, stirring until dissolved
2. bring to boil and boil for 3 minutes
3. reduce heat, add cherries, and simmer for 10 minutes
4. cool for one hour
5. place cherry and syrup mixture and orange juice into food processor, process until coarsely chopped
6. pour heavy and light creams into large bowl and whip until mixture holds its shape
7. fold in crushed cherry mixture
8. add to ice cream maker and follow manufacturers instructions
9. before transferring to freezer container, stir in chocolate chunks

chocolate, cherries, ice cream. yes.

this was tasty! it's truly hard to go wrong with fresh cherries, heavy cream, and chocolate. i think people at the bbq really enjoyed this - it was pretty much gone after dessert. personally, i could have added more cherries and been even happier, but i like a high fruit content in my chunky, fruity ice creams.

i'm excited to try out other recipes from this book. i keep leaning toward a honeycomb ice cream and i'm really not sure why i haven't whipped a batch up yet. then there's champagne sorbet that looks dreamy and true to title, delicious. there are also recipes for traditional sauce toppings. even for the qvc price, i'd recommend this yummy cookbook.